Opinion: Passing the responsibility of conservation on to our children

Updated
A duck swims among trash thrown into a dam in Kabul during World Earth Day on April 22, 2013.
A duck swims among trash thrown into a dam in Kabul during World Earth Day on April 22, 2013.
: Massoud Hossaini/AFP Photo

Becoming a parent changed my life. Holding my children for the very first time was incredibly emotional, joyous, and overwhelming. From that very first moment I felt a responsibility to make sure the world my children would grow up in was safe and secure.

Recent events remind us that life is not as simple as it was when I was born, nor is it as secure or safe as we would like it to be. There are things we can control and then there are things we hope and pray that others can control for us. Somewhere in the middle there are those things that appear “out of our control” but in fact rest squarely on our shoulders. From my perspective, caring for the environment—nurturing it and helping our children find and recognize their own love for it - is one of the most important and critical responsibilities of a parent.

In the fast paced electronic age we live in, we are inundated with “facts” and “myths” about products we buy, causes we support, and policies and programs we believe in. On environmental issues we are often left scratching our heads in the face of conflicting views with equal value attached, regardless of what the actual weight of scientific evidence on one side may be.

On climate change, the facts are in with 98% of climate scientists telling us that it is real and caused by humans. Climate change is happening now and the burning of fossil fuel is a primary cause. The best news is that it is solvable, but we need to act now and your family can be a part of it.

On Earth Day, take stock of what you are already doing for planet Earth and if you don’t already have a “family plan”, make one! Indoors, even young children can help with a home recycling program. Help your neighbors, your house of worship or your place of employment design and create their own conservation plan. Help your children understand that these plans and subsequent actions are important to you and should be for them as well.

Teenagers can unplug small appliances, cell phones, computers and electronic toys when they are charged or not in use.

Outdoors, take advantage of public transportation—your taxes pay for it and it is there for your use. Do multiple errands in one trip and use reusable bags, mugs and bottles.

Visit your local, state or federal representatives’ office and ask them what they are doing to keep you and our environment safe. Find out their voting record on issues you care about. Remind your kids (and your elected officials) what Peter Parker’s Uncle once told Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” 

Walk around the block, visit a local beach or park, go for a hike and take in your surroundings. Learn some of the names of the animals, birds and plants that are native to your community. When you are back at home, organize a family meeting to shares what you all saw, and why protecting and nurturing nature is important.

What affects Earth, affects our health—from the hazardous chemicals that are making their way into the foods we eat, to the safety of the air we breathe and the water we drink. If we take no action and apply no pressure, we lose control over the things that matter most.

Showing your children that you care about our environment teaches them responsibility for a health planet. They can make a difference and deserve the facts. As the French writer Jean Rostand and biologist Rachel Carson told us: “The obligation to endure gives us the right to know.”

So on Earth Day, let the kids in your life see you stand up for them by standing up for truth.

Opinion: Passing the responsibility of conservation on to our children

Updated